The Spirit Gives Life

From the book On the Holy Spirit by Saint Basil the Great, bishop

The Spirit Gives Life

Our Lord made a covenant with us through baptism in order to give us eternal life. There is in baptism an image both of death and of life, the water being the symbol of death, the Spirit giving the pledge of life. The association of water and the Spirit is explained by the twofold purpose for which baptism was instituted, namely, to destroy the sin in us so that it could never again give birth to death, and to enable us to live by the Spirit and so win the reward of holiness. The water into which the body enters as into a tomb symbolizes death; the Spirit instills into us his life-giving power, awakening our souls from the death of sin to the life that they had in the beginning. This then is what it means to be born again of water and the Spirit: we die in the water, and we come to life again through the Spirit.

To signify this death and to enlighten the baptized by transmitting to them knowledge of God, the great sacrament of baptism is administered by means of a triple immersion and the invocation of each of the three divine Persons. Whatever grace there is in the water comes not from its own nature but from the presence of the Spirit, since baptism is not a cleansing of the body, but a pledge made to God from a clear conscience.

As a preparation for our life after the resurrection, our Lord tells us in the gospel how we should live here and now. He teaches us to be peaceable, long-suffering, undefiled by desire for pleasure, and detached from worldly wealth. In this way we can achieve, by our own free choice, the kind of life that will be natural in the world to come.

Through the Holy Spirit we are restored to paradise, we ascend to the kingdom of heaven, and we are reinstated as adopted sons. Thanks to the Spirit we obtain the right to call God our Father, we become sharers in the grace of Christ, we are called children of light, blessing is showered upon us, both in this world and in the world to come. As we contemplate them even now, like a reflection in a mirror, it is as though we already possessed the good things our faith tells us that we shall one day enjoy. If this is the pledge, what will the perfection be? If these are the firstfruits, what will the full harvest be?

The Full Story Is Not Being Told- A Thoughtful Discussion

The Church is about Jesus Christ and Him crucified.  The Church, being the Body of Christ, can expect to be on the Cross, century after century, in this world. Christ was sinless and “became sin” for us.  The Church, being the People of God, hangs on that Cross in Christ.  At the Last Supper there was Communion.  The Church hangs on that Cross mystically born in the heart of Christ. We are humiliated by our sins, the sin of people, and the sin of the world for which Christ is dying.

Resurrection comes after the suffering and the Passion. Our sinfulness is not the end.  It’s the reason Christ died and now lives in His People, including His pope and His clergy. We are still learning how to be Christlike.

The Anchoress posted “No one wants to see pope prostrate.” In light of the grandiloquence surrounding the issue of sex abuse in the Catholic Church, getting the facts out is more important than ever to the Church, but with the wizardry of Presentism, the smoke and mirrors of time employed by The New York Times, distortions rule. Presentism, “a mode of historical analysis in which present-day ideas and perspectives are anachronistically introduced into depictions or interpretations of the Past, or as Webster states it “an attitude toward the past dominated by present-day attitudes and experiences,” is, itself, a distortion.  It is illogical and unreasonable. It is important to note that newspapers like the NY Times sell newspapers; sex and scandal sell.

Life Will Out

Michael Clancy took this amazing photograph. Slide show like no other.

As a photojournalist, my job is to tell stories through pictures. The experience of taking this photograph has had a profound effect on me, and I’m proud to share this moment with you.

Update -Yad Vashem

Yad Vashem – Remember (experimental villanelle)

Yad Vashem – What’s in a Name

I was reminded of a piece I wrote, God Remembers Their Names on the occasion of Pope Benedict XVI speaking at Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum and then I came upon this : A Hand and a Name by Renee Ghert-Zand.

 

“How ironic it is that celebrities, who live increasingly public lives, would metaphorically die to have their names and handprints immortalized in concrete, while the victims of the Holocaust would have done anything to have been able to live out their natural lives in obscurity, their names never appearing on one of countless Nazi extermination lists recovered and now housed forever at Yad VaShem.”

Yad VaShem Hall of Names by David Shankbone

 

Yad Vashem – Remember (experimental villanelle)
 

Stolen name replaced by number,
Savaged soul and broken heart.
Hell, a people to encumber.

Blind eyes outside in darkness.
Dead souls dismissed the human face.
Stolen name replaced by number

Raising from the ashes,
Pledging nevermore.
Hell, a people to encumber

Yad VaShem, the vault of memory,
Yad VaShem, the ground of tears
Stolen name replaced by number

Shoah: families, children.
Here named, remembered, mourned
Hell, a people to encumber

Faces pictured in the silence.
Tears cried forevermore.
Stolen name replaced by number
Hell, a people to encumber

Copyright Joann Nelander

“God Rejects No One” “The Church Rejects No One”

Pope Benedict marks the celebration  of the 1950th anniversary of the shipwreck of the Apostle Paul on the Island of Malta (Acts 27:12 – 28:1) with a pilgrimage to Malta.

Address to the Young People of Malta ( and the world)

“Saint Paul, as a young man, had an experience that changed him for ever. As you know, he was once an enemy of the Church, and did all he could to destroy it. While he was travelling to Damascus, intending to hunt down any Christians he could find there, the Lord appeared to him in a vision. A blinding light shone around him and he heard a voice saying, “Why do you persecute me? … I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting” (Acts 9:4-5). Paul was completely overcome by this encounter with the Lord, and his whole life was transformed. He became a disciple, and went on to be a great apostle and missionary. Here in Malta, you have particular reason to give thanks for Paul’s missionary labours, which spread the Gospel throughout the Mediterranean.

Every personal encounter with Jesus is an overwhelming experience of love. Previously, as Paul himself admits, he had “persecuted the church of God violently and tried to destroy it” (Gal 1:13). But the hatred and anger expressed in those words was completely swept away by the power of Christ’s love. For the rest of his life, Paul had a burning desire to carry the news of that love to the ends of the earth.

Maybe some of you will say to me, Saint Paul is often severe in his writings. How can I say that he was spreading a message of love? My answer is this. God loves every one of us with a depth and intensity that we can hardly begin to imagine. And he knows us intimately, he knows all our strengths and all our faults. Because he loves us so much, he wants to purify us of our faults and build up our virtues so that we can have life in abundance. When he challenges us because something in our lives is displeasing to him, he is not rejecting us, but he is asking us to change and become more perfect. That is what he asked of Saint Paul on the road to Damascus. God rejects no one. And the Church rejects no one. Yet in his great love, God challenges all of us to change and to become more perfect.

Saint John tells us that perfect love casts out fear (cf. 1 Jn 4:18). And so I say to all of you, “Do not be afraid!” How many times we hear those words in the Scriptures! They are addressed by the angel to Mary at the Annunciation, by Jesus to Peter when calling him to be a disciple, and by the angel to Paul on the eve of his shipwreck. To all of you who wish to follow Christ, as married couples, as parents, as priests, as religious, as lay faithful bringing the message of the Gospel to the world, I say, do not be afraid! You may well encounter opposition to the Gospel message. Today’s culture, like every culture, promotes ideas and values that are sometimes at variance with those lived and preached by our Lord Jesus Christ. Often they are presented with great persuasive power, reinforced by the media and by social pressure from groups hostile to the Christian faith. It is easy, when we are young and impressionable, to be swayed by our peers to accept ideas and values that we know are not what the Lord truly wants for us. That is why I say to you: do not be afraid, but rejoice in his love for you; trust him, answer his call to discipleship, and find nourishment and spiritual healing in the sacraments of the Church.

Here in Malta, you live in a society that is steeped in Christian faith and values. You should be proud that your country both defends the unborn and promotes stable family life by saying no to abortion and divorce. I urge you to maintain this courageous witness to the sanctity of life and the centrality of marriage and family life for a healthy society. In Malta and Gozo, families know how to value and care for their elderly and infirm members, and they welcome children as gifts from God. Other nations can learn from your Christian example. In the context of European society, Gospel values are once again becoming counter-cultural, just as they were at the time of Saint Paul.

In this Year for Priests, I ask you to be open to the possibility that the Lord may be calling some of you to give yourselves totally to the service of his people in the priesthood or the consecrated life. Your country has given many fine priests and religious to the Church. Be inspired by their example, and recognize the profound joy that comes from dedicating one’s life to spreading the message of God’s love for all people, without exception.

I have spoken already of the need to care for the very young, and for the elderly and infirm. Yet a Christian is called to bring the healing message of the Gospel to everyone. God loves every single person in this world, indeed he loves everyone who has ever lived throughout the history of the world. In the death and Resurrection of Jesus, which is made present whenever we celebrate the Mass, he offers life in abundance to all those people. As Christians we are called to manifest God’s all-inclusive love. So we should seek out the poor, the vulnerable, the marginalized; we should have a special care for those who are in distress, those suffering from depression or anxiety; we should care for the disabled, and do all we can to promote their dignity and quality of life; we should be attentive to the needs of immigrants and asylum seekers in our midst; we should extend the hand of friendship to members of all faiths and none. That is the noble vocation of love and service that we have all received. Let it inspire you to dedicate your lives to following Christ.”

B16 – Poignant Response to Maltese Youth

An appeal to Benedict XVI as reported by the Catholic Herald‘s Anna Arco:

“I wish to speak on behalf of those young people who, like me feel they are on the outskirts of the Church. We are the ones who do not fit comfortably into stereo-typed roles. This is due to various factors among them: either because we have experienced substance abuse; or because we are experiencing the misfortune of broken or dysfunctional families; or because we are of a different sexual orientation; among us are also our immigrant brothers and sisters, all of us in some way or another have encountered experiences that have estranged us from the Church. Other Catholics put us all in one basket. For them we are those “who claim to believe yet do not live up to the commitment of faith.”
To us, faith is a confusing reality and this causes us great suffering. We feel that not even the Church herself recognizes our worth. One of our deepest wounds stems from the fact that although the political forces are prepared to realize our desire for integration, the Church community still considers us to be a problem. It seems almost as if we are less readily accepted and treated with dignity by the Christian community than we are by all other members of society. Continue reading

Consecration to the Sacred Heart of Jesus

A Solemn Act of Consecration to the Sacred Heart of Jesus

by Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque

I give myself and consecrate to the Sacred Heart of our Lord Jesus Christ, my person and my life, my actions, pains and sufferings, so that I may be unwilling to make use of any part of my being other than to honor, love and glorify the Sacred Heart.
This is my unchanging purpose, namely, to be all His, and to do all things for the love of Him, at the same time renouncing with all my heart whatever is displeasing to Him.
I therefore take You, O Sacred heart, to be the only object of my love, the guardian of my life, my assurance of salvation, the remedy of my weakness and inconstancy, the atonement for all the faults of my life and my sure refuge at the hour of death.
Be then, O Heart of goodness, my justification before God the Father, and turn away from me the strokes of his righteous anger.
O Heart of love, I put all my confidence in You, for I fear everything from my own wickedness and frailty, but I hope for all things from Your goodness and bounty.
Remove from me all that can displease You or resist Your holy will; let Your pure love imprint Your image so deeply upon my heart, that I shall never be able to forget You or to be separated from You.
May I obtain from all Your loving kindness the grace of having my name written in Your Heart, for in You I desire to place all my happiness and glory, living and dying in bondage to You. Amen.